Thursday, January 30, 2014

Can You FEEL a Book?

MIT's Media Lab is developing a book that allows you to feel the story, as opposed to read the story (although, I feel books when I read them, don't you?). The MIT project "relies on extra-lexical components like sound, temperature control, vibration, and ambient lighting to tell its stories. It's creators call it 'sensory fiction,'" which allows readers to physically feel the experience by wearing a vest that simulates heartbeat and shivering. 

The development is kind of a hybrid of book and video game.

This is so interesting and I want to know more! Yet I'm somewhat hesitant about turning the reading experience, which is so organic and uniquely personal, a truly imaginative activity, into a mechanized (and somewhat homogenized) immersion. The beauty of reading is the power words alone have to affect us, the reader. Making is a sensory-stimulated experience somewhat undercuts that genius that is the book, don't you think?

I'd love your thoughts on this! What and exciting, and also unnerving development!

Via The Atlantic

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"So...what is college really like?"

I've been asked this questions for several years now by grandparents, small children, and educated professionals alike, and my response is generally consistent. Normal. I read, write, eat, and then read and write some more. (Mostly read.)

With the incredibly cold weather that started over the weekend, all classes were cancelled Monday and this morning, so I'm sure my aforementioned questioners are really confused now. I'd feel so cool if I could relate my college life to those hipsters with fabulously 'real lives' on GIRLS (kind of, it would be a little on the icky/TMI side) or the academic all-star with obscene amounts of time to be awesome and social Rory Gilmore, but in all honesty, it's just not that glamorous, which is fine. I guess.

Especially in the Midwest, a large portion of the school year takes place when the weather is so ungodly cold just going to class is an adventure. After several freeze-thaw sessions, the desire to go live it up in -10 air temp at a frat house with sweaty/chilly people seriously declines. You wake up in the cold dark and go to bed in the cold dark, and in general, your classrooms are kind of cold and kind of dark.

Now, don't get the idea that I go to some crappy, underfunded university. It's just the Minnesota reality.

So when school was cancelled, you know what I did? Pretty much the same thing per usual. I was confined to the indoors with copious notes and stacks of books, my fingers drying and cracking as paper wicked away any remaining oils and moisture my skin had managed to retain.

Again, read, write, eat, read and write some more. What I did yesterday, what I do everyday.

And let me tell you: It's the best. It's like an extended vacation, just with deadlines and grades. Ignore the sitcoms and feature films; academia is incredibly monotonous but insanely fun, and reading all day has become delightfully underrated, so now all my crazy fellow english majors are kind of hipsters by default.

So maybe we are the new GIRLS?

Photo: Abby Carlson Instagram

Monday, January 27, 2014

{Weekend Update}...Brunching at Home

Last Friday the challenge proposed was to do something surprising for someone; I said I was visiting my grandmother for her 99th birthday. Unfortunately, due to poor driving conditions, I couldn't drive back. I was totally bummed, yet Abby and I managed to have some fun. Friday night we picked up some groceries (we were out of the essentials), so along with fresh eggs we grabbed a pint of Summit Oatmeal Stout ice cream; we watched way too much Arrested Development; and we went to bed at a crazy hour. Saturday morning we had a lazy start & made an enormous brunch.

I'm telling you––brunch at home may be better than brunch out. And here's why...

It makes your typical Saturday at home feel like a mini party. And who doesn't log mini parties? It's simultaneously relaxing and stimulating/fun-inducing, both of which you want in a weekend.

You can food photograph all want without the weird glances from married couples who just don't get it. And it's fun to laugh at how silly you are when you realize the lengths you go to for a good 'gram.

The couch for brunch is seriously ten times more comfortable than any brunch-y table/booth near that corner front window through which light is blinding you but tables near by still want the shades open. Bonus, it feels kind of fungi shui to sit curled up on the couch with an entire brunch spread over the coffee table.  

Anyway, brunch is fun at home because it makes your apartment feel like a different place for a while. Lay out a tablecloth (or a huge scarf on the coffee table), use your french press, don't watch TV while you eat. It makes Saturday morning at home feel so charming & special!

To see more of the weekend brunch scene (amazing mini waffle doughnut recipe) head over to Classic Kitsch!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rad New Design

I've finally decided on a permanent (hopefully) design for the blog and I couldn't be more pleased. My extremely talented twin sister came up with this for me, with different formats for other branding and media. I was looking for something with personality, but also versatility and thematically similar to my interests, so we decided on an amazingly gender-neutral font in one of my favorite colors. She then surprised me with the ink splash, which I think is just so sweet. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Three cheers for having a finished blog––let's hope this inspires me to be more consistent with blogging now!

Friday, January 24, 2014

{Friday Challenge}...Surprise Someone

Tonight Abby and I are packing our little bags and leaving town for the weekend. My grandma is turning 99(!!) years old on Sunday, so we're spending the weekend with her to celebrate. But since she knows I'm at school, she thinks only my mom and dad will be visiting. As you get older, especially nearly a century, gifts are kind of pointless. Our birthday gift to her is a surprise weekend. We'll stay up late, play cards, and graze on popcorn just like old times. I've been looking forward to this all week, because I can't wait to see her face when we walk in the door after Mom and Dad. Those moments are the best.

So this weekend (or upcoming week) do something surprising for someone. Perhaps make a tasty brunch so that when your roommate wakes up, there's delicious food and coffee ready to be eaten. Or send flowers to one of your friends at work just to say they're awesome. (I was really receptive to this post on Wit & Delight about women empowering women.) Even if it means that you pay for the coffee of a stranger behind you on one of these freezing days, it's worth it because that surprised look on someone's face is amazing.

Photo by Jessica Nichols

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

'Her' is the Man

After seeing the new critically acclaimed film Her by Spike Jonze, I heard a lot of hmmmms as the theatre lights went up. My friend's mother, who had made that kind of parental 'tseh' noise of disapproval periodically (especially during the sexual parts), said that it was "the worst movie in fifty-five years," and I mentally responded with exclamation points. Seriously? It's the single most terrible film in the last five decades––your lifetime? Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) make one of the sweetest, single-tear-inducing, "real" couples in recent romances.

I almost understand the skepticism and objection to Her from those who haven't seen it (and to that, I also add, "Don't knock it 'til you try it.") because the previews are vague and really emphasize the whole man-machine relationship, making many hesitant. The common opinion about the movie from this population of non-viewers tends to revolve around how "it's just so icky/weird/unnatural/creepy/disturbing," and my only response to these complaints is this: just go see it.

Here's why Her is seriously one of the best films of my lifetime (which, unlike friend's mom, in only two decades):

1) It's cinematically breathtaking, and I mean breathtaking not only because it's beautiful, but because it actually surprises you in a romantic, delightful sort of way. 

We hear the popular description, man falls in love with operating system, and imagine a white and chrome environment, cornea-searing reflection off polished surfaces, and body-hugging outfits that suggest a sort of non-humanness while also sexiness. Instead, everything is sun-washed in dreamy sunset hues that remind you of impressionistic art. It's hazy with warm slashes of sunlight and interiors are filled with a clean coziness––airy, colorful, and semi-worn so that you want to spend Saturday brunch with the tenants.

Clothing wise, people wear normal people attire. Clothes are somewhat ill-fitting so that we actually believe these people are real like us who don't have everything perfectly tailored. Scenes are slowly expansive, while deeply intimate so that we're not too much a part of this near future, but we understand it.

2) It's not as creepy as it sounds.

In all seriousness, the sexual stuff is potentially uncomfortable (company is highly influential in uncomfortability factor) but brief. Very little time is actually invested in the "physical" component of a relationship, but rather explores the evolution of a relationship in an almost exclusively verbal fashion––something most films with just humans fail to do.

We are so used to seeing people move from hand-holding, to kissing, to etc., etc., but don't grasp how they way we talk to each other changes. And in Her we hear this. Nervous hellos, playful questions about favorite everythings, long deep conversations about apparently nothing. It's refreshing.

3) Melancholy prevails in Her.

I'm not going to say how specifically, because I'm too nice and hopeful that you'll see the movie to give away the ending. Without spoiling too many details: the range of emotions is vast, and with that comes an earnest longing that leads to a little empty feeling. It's so full of thought, and love, and just good stuff––the relationship is (and the movie)––that this small emptiness leaves you feeling both happy and sad in the most delicate way. What's missing is not exactly a second body in the relationship, but it's something that none of us, even Samantha and Theodor can attain.

Photo via Her Gallery

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Weekend Update: Temporary Goodbyes

I'm back at school and thought I would share something that's not often mentioned: temporary goodbyes are sometimes the most difficult.

It sounds completely insane, because any sensible person would realize that the temporary part means that there will be a future reunion. However, the open-ended nature of a temporary goodbye leaves more of a grey-area abyss while the permanent goodbye solidly closes the door. The permanent goodbye, with its grimace-inducing finality, actually facilitates a quicker recovery. Since it's permanent, things aren't going to change, and you therefore accept the reality quite quickly.

The temporary goodbye often includes the phrase, "I'll see you soon," and rarely (at least in my collegiate experience) has a definite future date for being reunited. There is an estimation: perhaps two week, maybe if things get crazy two months, and that indefinite nature is practically impossible. How do you look forward to something like a heartfelt return home when you can't write down the date in your calendar?

Let's face it: seeing someone soon is hardly consolation when they are driving away with the car rearview mirror-obscuringly packed.

When my friend moved to Texas, we kind of just faced the music knowing in our heart of hearts that our teahouse chats were pretty much over. When I leave home after a lengthy, lazy vacation, it feels like my body is actually being ripped from the house unwillingly. I don't know if I'll be home Friday or Saturday and that little vagueness is annoying and difficult.

Instead of having time to recover after a final, permanent goodbye, temporary goodbyes leave everyone in kind of hello/goodbye limbo. This volleying back and forth, home and school, saying see you soon what feels like seconds after saying it's so good to see you! is harder.

And so when I left for spring semester, it was significantly tougher to say my temporary goodbyes because the moment you say them, there's anticipation for the non-established (but implied) reunion. Call it weakness, call it metathesiophobia; the temporary goodbye pulls at your heartstrings a little harder than the good old permanent goodbye.

Photo via Instagram

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back and Better Than Ever!

Happy New Year, everyone! After a lengthy break from blogging, I'm back for 2014 with a few changes in mind. The blog over the past years has changed significantly.

Starting with The Adventures of Clyde and Nora, I talked about a lot of things that (let's face it) only really interested my high school/early college self. After a break up the title/blog didn't seem so appropriate and didn't make any sense, so with a new phase came a new blog and Sarah Carlson Etc. was established. I hope you've liked it; I have.

However, in starting a new blog, I really struggled finding the right "voice," which is pretty much the worst thing for writers. Content on the blog wasn't unified, it lacked basic direction, purpose, and sometimes interest. And without that cohesive nature that successful blogs have, my desire/passion/interest in blogging crashed and burned––on the internet.

This year, things will be different but (hopefully) in a permanent way. I'm not a designer, photographer, chef, or fashionista, so my expectations (and your's) in that department should be low. I won't post so many clothing or interior articles. I'm not a mother, wife, or relationship expert, so advice in personal life issues will be few. However, expect opinions, as I have many.

How the blog will look: who knows! The blog will feature better, but less frequent posts. I am a writer first and foremost. The quality of posts is far more important than the frequency. I'm going for broke here and attempting to make this blog truly about a dialog. I'll ramble for sure, but I hope that invokes you to ramble back at me.